Spooky [inaudible] Stories

Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year again where spooky things and goblins rule. This year, it may be more spooky style stomach aches as we eat all the candy we can’t pass out to trick-or-treaters. Either way, it’s time for a post about the scariest thing any scopist, proofreader, or transcriptionist can encounter—big, bad audio.

Bad audio for a proofreader can be challenging. For a scopist, it can be really challenging, but for a transcriptionist, it can be a nightmare of Halloween size proportions that would send Freddy running for the hills. You’re talking about taking a two-hour job and turning it into a four-hour job for the same pay. Now that’s scary.

Here are some tips to get through it:

  • Use technology. Most transcription software (I know Express Scribe does) has tools you can use to help with bad audio. Express Scribe has features like background noise reduction, volume boost, and a high pass filter. You can also slow down the audio, but I would recommend a soft hand with this. Slow down the audio to 83%, and you can make words out stronger; slow it down to 66%, and it becomes too slow to decipher.
  • Use context. Whatever you are working on, you’re going to work on it faster if you understand the industry. If you’re transcribing for business meetings, for example, but you don’t understand the terminology of the business, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to pick through lousy audio. Spend some time researching when you encounter something unfamiliar to you. The time spent then will save you time deciphering later.
  • Use the internet. Searches don’t have to make sense, thank God.  Frequently, I’ll type the strangest thing in search bars because that’s what I hear in the audio. Sometimes, the “did you mean…” is a lifesaver. There’s an expression; you don’t know what you don’t know. Something may sound strange to you, but to someone else, it’s common terminology. For example, I recently kept hearing “internet of things,” thinking that I was hearing the speaker wrong. It turns out, internet of things, aka IoT, is a real talking point in many applications and industries.

Halloween may be the spookiest holiday, but bad audio is the scariest thing for anyone in our profession. Like most terrifying things, take a breath, say a prayer, and get it over with. Happy Halloween, everyone!

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.” – Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow

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